Before Australia’s parliament backed down from a controversial decision to segregate women wearing facial coverings in its public galleries, photographer Fabian Muir set out on a 10,000km journey to photograph the burqa in landscapes across Australia. The resulting work appears in his series Blue Burqa in a Sunburnt Country
Fabian Muir: ‘The idea for the series came to me while I was in Australia last year. My work had been very focused on post-Soviet areas from the Baltic to central Asia. Something inside me said it was time to do something on my homeland.’
‘I share my time between Sydney and Berlin where the Australian government’s stance on immigration attracts a lot of attention. I often find myself having to field probing questions from puzzled Europeans.’
‘The discussion of the “burqa ban” particularly riles me. I have done enough travelling around the Middle East to know that there is nothing more absurd than vilification of an individual based on what they wear.’
‘I have been to Iran several times where most women are covered one way or another in public. They are among the gentlest and most cultivated people you are likely to meet. It’s classic appearance versus reality.’
‘The beauty of the burqa itself took even me by surprise - it does possess an undeniable beauty in the way it interacts with the sky, water, wind and landscapes …’
‘… even if some people would rather not acknowledge this.’
‘As a photographer, I believe in the ability of the still image to have an immediate impact and impart a powerful message. I’m hoping the images in this series go some way to addressing complex issues in a nuanced and poetic way.’
‘I’m fond of this image but as you might imagine, I was getting some curious looks while popping the burqa over my head with the camera in my hand on Bondi. That said, there were no objections, just one kid who said he came from Kabul.’
‘My own relationship with Australian landscapes changed while shooting the series. I was having to observe them very closely for weeks on end and they began to embed themselves in my psyche.’
'Everyone has heard of the intrinsic connection Indigenous people have with their land. By the time we had finished shooting, I think I understood at least 0.5% of that connection.’
Silver Snow Gum Trees on the steep
slopes of Mt Buffalo in Victoria, Australia in mid-summer.
The trees glistening silver ~ After all their outer black charred bark has been
completely eroded over time by the elements. These trees will eventually
uproot and fall ~ And a new generation of forest trees will emerge.